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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

92                THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

the normal expansion of life. The child is a body which grows
and a mind which unfolds; the double physiological and psychical
form springs from one eternal fount-life* Their mysterious poten-
tialities ought not to be either dissected or crushed out by us;
we must wait for the succession of events in which they show
themselves.

The environment factor is without a doubt subsidiary to the
phenomena of life. It can modify, as it can help or destroy, but
it can never grow. The origins of development are internal. The
child does not grow because he is nourished, because he breathes,
^because he lives in suitable climatic conditions; he grows because
the potential life within him pursues its course, becomes effective;
because the fruitful germ from which life springs is developing.
Puberty does not come because the child laughs, or dances, or
does gymnastics, or is nourished better than usual, but because
some physiological change has happened. It is life which is mani-
fested; life which creates; life which gives; and life is confined
within limits and controlled by insuperable laws.

When therefore we speak of liberty for the small child we do
not mean to countenance the unregulated external actions in which
••children, left to themselves, indulge as a relief for their aimless
.activity; we assign to the word the profound sense of liberation
of its life from obstacles which might hinder its normal
development.

The child has a great mission which is all the time urging him
onwards—that of growing and becoming a man. Because the
child is unconscious of his internal needs, and because adults are
far from being able to interpret them, there are created around
the child, in the social life of the family and the school, many
jnistaken conditions which hinder the expansion of child-life. To
remove as far as possible these circumstances through a thorough
study of the intimate and hidden needs of early childhood in order
.to accommodate our help to those needs, is to liberate the child.

This idea demands on the part >f the adult greater care and
Jtoer observation of the real needs of the child; and, as the first